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Location Sierra Leone, Northern Province
Central coordinates 11o 30.00' West  9o 20.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 8,072 ha
Altitude 850 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

Conservation Society of Sierra Leone

Site description Lake Sonfon (5,180 ha) is situated in a remote area in the mountainous north-east of the country. The nearest large town is Kabala, 60 km to the north. The lake is surrounded by hills, the vegetation of which comprises open grassland and wooded savanna, with fringing forest and, in some places, farmbush. Several small streams flow into the lake and these provide the main source of water for local communities. The lake is a centre of traditional beliefs and ceremonies for the local people.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. A total of 105 species have so far been recorded from this poorly surveyed area. More species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome than currently recorded are expected to occur; among those which are known to be present is Coccycolius iris.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, Cephalophus niger (LR/nt), C. maxwelli (LR/nt) and Hexaprotodon liberiensis (VU) have all been recorded.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Pied-winged Swallow Hirundo leucosoma resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Emerald Starling Coccycolius iris resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Splendid Sunbird Nectarinia coccinigaster resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-winged Pytilia Pytilia phoenicoptera resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Pytilia Pytilia hypogrammica resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dybowski's Twinspot Euschistospiza dybowskii resident  2000  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2013 very high not assessed negligible

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) very rapid to severe deterioration high
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) very rapid to severe deterioration very high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Very little or no conservation action taking place  negligible 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  10%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools; Rivers & streams  70%
Savanna Wooded grassland  20%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -

References Phillipson (1978).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Sonfon and environs. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife